50 for 50: McCain Foods

Published online: Nov 15, 2021 50 for 50, Articles
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Throughout 2021, as part of Potato Grower’s celebration of our 50th year in publication, we will be honoring in our pages and on our website 50 of the potato industry’s most innovative and influential individuals, companies and organizations over the past half-century. This “50 for 50” series will include researchers, salesmen, packers, processors and, of course, plenty of potato growers. A lot of them will be names you’ve heard before. To some, you’ll get a fresh introduction. Regardless, each has had an outsize impact on the U.S. potato industry, and each deserves our thanks and recognition. To view the full roster of “50 for 50” honorees, click here
This article appears in the November 2021 issue of Potato Grower.

The McCain brothers (Wallace, Harrison, Robert and Andrew) were entrepreneurs of their time. As sons of a third-generation farmer, they used their family knowledge of agriculture and combined it with innovation.

By using frozen food technology, the brothers opened the first McCain Foods production facility in their hometown of Florenceville, New Brunswick, in 1957, producing frozen french fries, which have become a signature product, not only of the McCains’ company, but of the global potato industry.

Under the family’s leadership, McCain Foods quickly became established in the Canadian marketplace. That was just the start of a journey to become the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen french fries. Today, about one in every four fries in the world is a McCain Foods fry.

As well as the McCain brand, McCain Foods Limited is made up of a range of companies operating within the prepared potato and appetizer segments, potato seed cultivation, transportation and more. These include:

  • McCain Foods, which specializes in a variety of prepared potato products and appetizers, operating within both the foodservice and retail channels;
  • Van Geloven, which supplies a wide range of frozen convenience snacks and foods across a variety of customer channels;
  • Lutosa, a worldwide provider of fine potato products specializing in pre-fried french fries, frozen potato specialties and dehydrated potato flakes;
  • CelaVita, a producer of chilled potato products that supplies fresh potato solutions to the retail, foodservice and industry;
  • Infinity Foods, which produces frozen appetizers such as filled potato skins, green bean fries, and mac and cheese bites; and
  • Day & Ross, an arm that provides integrated transportation and logistics services.

From the beginning, McCain has worked closely with the farmers supplying its potatoes and other products. Today, its network includes around 3,500 farmers across the world. McCain has been a leader in promoting agricultural sustainability, and actively collaborates with its to implement good agricultural practices related to food safety, traceability, environmental sustainability, biodiversity and soil health.

By embracing its entrepreneurial, innovative beginnings, McCain Foods has grown significantly over the years. McCain products—most notably fries and appetizers—are now available in more than 160 countries. The company employs a diverse team of 22,000 people across six continents, with global sales in excess of $8 billion. McCain Foods has expanded far beyond what Wallace, Harrison, Robert and Andrew McCain probably could have imagined 60 years ago. Yet the company remains family-owned, with the values of product quality, people, and customer service guiding everything it does.